What does the squad selections for South Africa’s tour to India tell us about the long-term planning of the national side?
The squads for the three different formats announced on Thursday is a bit of a mixed bag.
Looking at the positives, it’s good to see Dane Piedt and especially Imran Tahir be recalled to the Test squad. Piedt did well on the recent South Africa A tour to India where he took a five-wicket haul in each of the two unofficial Tests.
Tahir has been South Africa’s most consistent bowler in the two shorter formats of the game and deserves another crack at Test level. The expectation is that he should do well in Indian conditions, and one senses that this will be his last chance to keep his Test hopes alive.
If Tahir fails in India, his Test career will surely be over.
Dane Vilas will keep his Test spot ahead of Quinton de Kock, although the latter was included in the ODI and T20 squads after scoring two hundreds in a row for SA A in India in the 50-over format.
It’s the right call, not least of all because Vilas never got a chance to bat in the rain interrupted Test series in Bangladesh. AB de Villiers is the immediate wicketkeeper back-up.
What was interesting was the omissions of Reeza Hendricks (Tests), Vernon Philander (ODI’s) and David Wiese (ODI’s). Hendricks toured with the Test squad to Bangladesh but never played, while Philander is considered a first-choice in the ODI team.
The emergence of Kagiso Rabada has put pressure on Philander in this regard, but I reckon the reason that will be given for Philander’s omission in the ODI squad is the fact that the conditions in India might not suit his style. It’s a fair point but he will almost certainly be recalled for England’s tour to South Africa at the end of the year.
Hendricks was in contention for the openers spot alongside Dean Elgar, but the selectors opted for Stiaan van Zyl in Bangladesh. Does the omission of Hendricks in the Test squad mean Van Zyl has won that battle?
Wiese can count himself unlucky for missing out on selection for the ODI squad after just three games against New Zealand. His fielding was below par in that series, but it shouldn’t be forgotten that he took five wickets, which was the joint most with Tahir and Adam Milne.
I wrote before the New Zealand series that Wiese should be given an extended run in the side at No 7, and I still feel that way. Ultimately, he did enough against the Black Caps to go to India.
Considering all this, what does it say about the planning by coach Russell Domingo and the rest of the selectors?
Why take Hendricks to Bangladesh and drop him for the next tour? What does that achieve? To judge Wiese, or any player for that matter, over just three games is also unfair. The return of JP Duminy and Farhaan Behardien’s good performances against New Zealand no doubt contributed to his axing.
While there are clear positives after Thursday’s announcement, there still remains more questions that answers.